Racist Technology in Action: Outsourced labour in Nigeria is shaping AI English

Generative AI uses particular English words way more than you would expect. Even though it is impossible to know for sure that a particular text was written by AI (see here), you can say something about that in aggregate.

The use of the word ‘delve’, for example, has shot up in recent Pubmed publications:

A graph showing how the use of word ‘delve’ has grown massively in published Pubmed studies

The most likely explanation for this change is that people are using GPT to write up their studies.

Alex Hern explains in the Guardian how AI models require human input to be trained. This training is often done in countries with lower wages under terrible labour conditions. According to Hern, the word ‘delve’ is used significantly more often in Nigerian business English than in English from the UK or the US. The labour of Nigerian workers has helped to create an AI that talks slightly like a Nigerian. Hern doesn’t think this is harmless:

If AI-ese sounds like African English, then African English sounds like AI-ese. Calling people a “bot” is already a schoolyard insult […]; how much worse will it get when a significant chunk of humanity sounds like the AI systems they were paid to train?

See: How cheap, outsourced labour in Africa is shaping AI English at The Guardian.

Header image from the original Guardian article.

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